Senscot Bulletin: 07.01.10

Dear members and friends,

I’m staying at a beachfront hotel in Marbella which has been here since 1957 – popular with oldies like myself who enjoy nostalgia.  Yesterday, Joyce from Yorkshire approaches me – wants to know why I don’t attend the gala events.  Tell her that I’m of an age when I prefer to be in my bed with a book – she disapproves.  So I quote Max Ehrhard’s lovely line, “Take kindly the counsel of the years, gracefully surrendering the things of youth”.  This makes her angry – declares that she’s 78 and has no intention of surrendering anything gracefully – her tirade leaves me a bit bruised.  But that doesn’t make her wrong – if Joyce wants to dance flamenco, that’s up to her. 
One purpose of this trip was to devise a framework for editing volumes of old journals into some kind of memoir – but I’m not convinced.  Looking back, my life seems more like a dodgem ride – round and round, bumping into things – than any planned journey; to ascribe some retrospective order and meaning feels bogus.  I don’t believe our true life is reducible to words – it takes place when we’re alone – thinking, feeling, lost in memory, dreamingly self-aware; just a stream of unsorted thoughts – mostly rubbish.  Recently I’ve been sifting some of this flotsam – like a beachcomber – looking for signals that my unconscious is on the move – that something is afoot.  Is there a new project hatching to occupy my life age 70-75?  Just because I don’t do gala nights – doesn’t mean I’ve chucked it.

Muhammad Yunus created the Grameen Bank in the 1970s to lend small amounts to previously unbankable village women in Bangladesh.  His work won the Nobel Peace prize in 2006. But in this article ‘Whatever happened to Microfinance?’ – David Boyle tells how it has now become a $4 billion mainstream financial industry – tainted by reports of widespread loan sharking – severely damaging the reputation of microcredit. See, . It is not surprising then that in his recent book ‘Building Social Business,’ Yunus is unequivocal about definitions – making clear his view that social enterprises must be asset-locked – allowing no personal gain or dividends.  Regular readers will know that Senscot’s position is aligned with Yunus on this issue – but there are those who are not.  Rodney Schwartz, in his review of the book, considers the definition too rigid. See,

Some of the most effective local anchor organisations are community controlled housing associations – unique to Scotland – which lead the regeneration of some of our most deprived communities.  Current government policy fails to appreciate the added impact of local ownership – favours fewer, larger housing conglomerates; so I’ve registered my support for GWSF’s ‘Keep it Local’ campaign – and would urge fellow localists to do the same. Dr Kim McKee of St Andrew’s University recently gave an excellent presentation on this subject. It’s worth a look,

Kevin McKenna, in his Observer column before the holiday, wrote about poverty in the East End of Glasgow; he features the ‘With Kids’ project that I’m associated with.  Like Grameen Bank (see above), ‘With Kids’ is embedded in the community it serves – not driven by outcomes imposed by any external agencies.  McKenna seems to understand this – that it’s the local relationships, above anything else, which matter.

A successful building contractor retires. To keep himself occupied, he creates a social enterprise building operation, employing youngsters who’ve been in trouble – to give them a ‘second chance’ of becoming valued employees.  For many years, I’ve dreamed of such a scenario – now Kibble Construction are actually doing it – in partnership with David Hannah – former co-founder of house builders Ossian Construction.  Great story.  See,

NOTICES: We can’t flag all notices here, but more jobs, events and tenders available on our website. See . This week: 
JOBS: Pilotlight Scotland, Glasgow Homelessness Network, The Iona Community, Save the Children, Outside the Box Development Support, Deaf Action
EVENTS: Scottish Orchards East Coast Gathering, 14 Jan; Engine Shed Burns Supper, 15 Jan; Social Impact Agenda, 19 Jan; Rural Development Day, 26 Jan; Tender writing training, 30 Jan; Whose Economy?, 17 Feb
TENDERS: Supply of Electrical Equipment and Consumables; Provision of Contracted School, College and Social Work Transport Services for Children and Adults; Architects & Related Services Framework;

NETWORKS 1st: Colin writes: Best wishes for 2011 to all SEN members. This year promises to be a busy one with challenges ahead for the social enterprise community in Scotland. These will include the introduction of Third Sector Interfaces; implementation of Council cutbacks; and, of course, the Scottish Elections in May. We’re confident however that social enterprises have shown enough drive and adaptability over recent years to meet those challenges. This attitude was well reflected during the recent Social Enterprise Conference and Ceilidh at New Lanark in November. We’ve now completed the Ceilidh Report – with pictures! We’d like to thank all those who responded (over 50%). See, Senscot will be looking to support SEN members as best we can over the next 12 months and, in doing so, will be working more collaboratively with other Intermediary bodies. For more Networks News, see

Closing date for the Coalition’s Social Enterprise Scotland Awards 2011 is Tuesday 18th Jan. The awards have four categories; Social Enterprise Start Up of the Year; Social Enterprise Leader of the Year; Young Person’s Social Enterprise of the Year; Social Enterprise of the Year. If you’d like to submit, you’d better get your skates on. See, Congratulations are also in order to Margaret Simpson (chair of Scottish Borders Social Enterprise Chamber and Convenor of the Community Care Forum) who received an MBE in the New Year Honours for services to social enterprise and to the community in the Borders.

I have many mixed feelings about the Tommy Sheridan trial – some of which I haven’t worked out yet.  There’s a place in the Scottish political psyche where Sheridan fits.  Here are two pieces that give different perspectives on Sheridan, the trial and its implications. I agree with much of what Gerry Hassan (the analyst) says in his piece. Kevin McKenna’s take is more understanding of human frailty. See both articles,

Over recent months, we’ve featured the Q&A series run through the Guardian’s online social enterprise network. The Q&A during the holiday period focused on `Working in collaboration and consortia`, which is particularly topical in the current climate, and includes a contribution from Sarah Deas, CEO of Co-operative Development Scotland. See,

Just before the break, Forth Sector announced ambitious plans to build an ‘employability hub’ in Edinburgh’s Craigmillar area. The `Hub` aims to create up to five-hundred training for work places and up to eighty permanent jobs. It is hoped to open this exciting new venture in early 2012. See more,

This week’s bulletin profiles the UK’s largest, outdoor, fully supervised, concrete skatepark, based in Stevenson in Ayrshire. Opened in 2005, Evolution Skatepark is very much imbedded in the local community. Income is generated through admissions, catering and equipment hire – helmets, skates, bikes and one off events. With 5 years experience under their belt, they are now developing plans to build indoor Skatepark on an adjacent site.  This would allow the facility to become an all weather complex with a café, meeting rooms and offices.  For more, see

English journalist Tobias Jones married an Italian and moved to Parma 10 years ago – he is author of bestseller: ‘The Dark Heart of Italy’.  I took with me on holiday his book ‘Utopian Dreams’ – about a year he spent living in various communes amongst unusual dreamers. 
“The promise of happiness has created an epidemic of depression – it’s us who are being consumed, not the objects.  The consumer culture allows everything to be erased, replicated, replaced.  Nothing ever aims for permanency or perfection – we’re constantly buying because we’re cool chameleons – ceaselessly changing and dressing up to assume new roles.  We mustn’t ever hint at commitments, because that would limit rights and choices.  This way no door is ever closed – no purchase or partner precluded.  Sounds good huh?  But it’s not.  I simply can’t continue living like this.”

That’s all for this week. Good luck with your adventures

Best wishes,


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